We are delighted to bring you an interview with former amateur jockey & Group winning trainer Ruth Carr.
Having taken up her training licence in 2008 after being assistant to her Grand father, Ruth talks about her early days when riding against the men, how training has changed in the last decade & her favourite days on the race track….
What is your earliest memory of racing?
I have a vague recollection of leading up a horse called Apple Wine for Grandad at Beverley in my pre teenage years. He loved a right handed track but didn’t win that day. It was said that the horse was older than the girl leading him up!
You obviously spent a lot of time around horses when you were younger, so was it almost inevitable that you would work in the industry in some capacity?
I’d already been mucking and riding out for Grandad whilst at school and had my first ride in public on my 16th birthday. There was some talk of me staying on to at school to do A level business studies but it never happened! I just went full time into working for Grandad and basically never left!
Or did you have another career in mind when you were at school?
Whilst working for Grandad I did keep my hand in at something other than just doing horses… Mum and Dad had, Ride-Away, a large saddlery and country clothing shop and mail order business.
I spent a couple of afternoons a week in the office; it meant that I learnt computer and telephone skills and about dealing with customers.
You were a Amateur jockey, who represented GB & was leading Amateur Jockey on the flat in 1999, why did you never turn Pro?
I wasn’t good enough or light enough!
What were the disadvantages just 20 years ago for female jockeys compared to now?
Back then if you weren’t related to a trainer or an owner, who was willing to put you up, it was very hard to get started.
As a dual code amateur jockey, which was harder riding in – PTP, Hurdles or Flat racing?
Probably riding against the professionals on the northern NH circuit. In PTP’s and on the flat I only rode against other amateurs and I was one of the more experienced but over jumps I was the bottom of the pile!
Do you still ride out?
Yes, every day. I enjoy it and although I can’t ride every horse I can get a feel as to what’s going on on the gallops, it keeps me fit and is work at the same time!
Having spent 15 years as Assistant trainer to your Grandad, was it natural to take over the trainer’s license in 2008?
Strangely I hadn’t really thought of taking over from Grandad.. I was happy doing the horses and driving up and down the country to the races. When Grandad told me over breakfast one morning that he was ready to retire, it came as a surprise but I was given the best opportunity to give it a try and couldn’t imagine now going back to working for someone else.
How many horses do you have in the yard now, compared to at the start of your training career?
We have about 45 horses in at the moment (some are on their winter holidays). I had about 12 when I started out.
Do you target certain races or meetings with certain horses or does it just depend on how the meetings are set?
A hard one to answer.. I think with a higher class horse you are in a position to target certain races and map out a campaign but with most of my horses it’s generally race to race, picking out tracks which play to their strengths, trying to keep in front of the handicapper and give the owners a good day out.
How has racing changed in the 12 years you have held the main License?
I think we have a lot more focus on horse welfare – quite rightly so. Facilities at the racecourses for the horses (and people) have improved. The whips rules have tightened up.
There is more emphasis on jockeys being sports people and their fitness, diet and technique. Stable staff are better paid and looked after. Syndicates are now the norm.
How do you think racing needs to change going forward to be more sustainable & attract more people to the sport?
A hard question that I wish I could answer. It would be great if the whole of racing could work together – it often seems like we pull in different directions.
Without the pandemic, how hard was it to attract new owners & do you think racing syndicates could be the way forward for horse ownership?
I’ve always relied on my results to attract new owners and the fact that we don’t train the traditional way here at Mowbray will always appeal to plenty of people.
Syndicates are a great way to be involved in ownership, get racing and meet like minded people for little cost but they do need to be managed correctly.
How has the pandemic affected you, the team & the owner situation?
We are all very thankful that racing can continue during this second lockdown and as such nothing here is too different to what it would have been any other November. We’ve had a difficult year with our horses not performing to the best of their ability so it is quite hard to differentiate one from the other.
What has been your favourite day as a trainer?
Tricky question probably Sovereign Debt winning at Epsom on Derby Day! But lots of other days which may seem nondescript.. it is very rewarding to win a small, mid week race with someone’s modest homebred.
Best horse you have trained?
If you could win just 1 race, which would it be & why?
We won Grandad’s Memorial race at Ripon with Pipers Note which was top of my hit list. Any of the big Sprint Handicaps, Ayr Gold Cup, Stewards Cup, Great St Wilfrid, Portland…
Although you do need a horse rated high 90’s to get in these races.. Unlike when Grandad trained Glencroft to be 2nd in the 1988 Stewards Cup off 74!
And if you could train ANY horse PAST or PRESENT, who would it be & why?
I’d prefer a gelding which I could turn out everyday and don’t think I would have dared turn Frankel out! I’d love another, younger version of Sovereign Debt!
Away from racing, how do you relax?
Eating and drinking and riding across challenging countryside with my friends!
And finally, do you have a horse for our readers to keep an eye out for?
We bought a few new ones recently at Tattersalls Autumn sale including Freedom Flyer. They will enjoy a winter rest, time to get scruffy and woolly before coming back into work early next year and start afresh.
You can visit Ruth’s website here – https://www.ruthcarrracing.co.uk
We would like to thank Ruth for her time & wish Ruth, her staff & the horses all the best for the All Weather season & the future…
Interview by Rich Williams
Pictures – Ruth Carr Racing & Twitter. Sovereign Debt (Racing Post)